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Film Review: Sleepless

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Jamie Foxx returns to the big screen after a three-year absence in the new crime thriller Sleepless, a remake of the critically acclaimed French film Nuit Blanche. Unfortunately, the attempt from Swiss director Baran Odar is a grind to watch.

Credit: sleeplessmovie.com

After stealing from a powerful crime family, officer Vincent Downs (Jamie Foxx) ventures to the Luxus hotel in Las Vegas in an attempt to rescue his kidnapped son, Thomas (Octavius J. Johnson). Whilst on this personal mission, Downs crosses paths with internal affairs agent Jennifer Bryant (Michelle Monaghan) who is looking to clamp down on corruption with the Vegas police department. The two then ensue in a deadly game of cat and mouse with each other, whilst trying to avoid the notourious crime lord, Rob Novak (Scoot McNairy).

In terms of performances, Sleepless wastes its talented cast with the only noteworthy acting coming from Scoot McNairy, who does his best to be intimidating when on screen. Jamie Foxx grumbles his way through the movie with a stale performance that makes Downs feel like just another generic cop character. The same can be said for Michelle Monaghan whose angry portrayal of Bryant makes her a very hard character to root for a lot of the time. The lack of likeable characters is one of the film's main issues, as both Downs and Bryant remain cold, detached and angry throughout the entire movie.

The film’s pacing is also an issue. The first quarter moves very quickly, allowing no time for relationships to develop, particularly between Downs and his son. By the time the film moves into the Luxus hotel, where the majority of the movie takes place, it becomes a series of dreary conversational scenes followed by the occasional fight. This structure quickly becomes frustrating as just when it feels like the film is about to kick off into action, it immediately slows down again. By the time the finale comes around it's too little too late, and even then, there's not much to get excited about.

One positive of the film is that it does have a great, pulsating score from Michael Kamm. The music constantly aids in building tension throughout the film, and is most effective in Sleepless’ early stages. It's just a shame that the action on screen doesn’t match thrilling sound behind it.

As for the directing, Baran Odar is inconsistent in his quality. There are some excellent shots of Vegas itself with cinematographer Mihai Malaimare Jr. doing a great job at catching the glamour of the city. However, the film suffers from the overuse of shaky cam and quick cuts during action sequences, which make it hard to follow what’s going on at times.

Sleepless falls into the trap of following the clichés of its genre. Boring characters, predictable twists and lacklustre action all make it a crime thriller to steer well clear of. 

Sleepless is out now distributed through Entertainment One.

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